November 14, 2018

Gaining Loyal Customer By Building a Strong Leadership Brand

Cover of "Leadership Brand: Developing Cu...

Cover via Amazon

LEADERSHIP BRANDING:     When you read this term, do you really know what it means?  I really did not know until the year 2008, when I read the book Leadership Brand by Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood.  Because I had not heard of the term until then, it made me scratch my head and wonder if others found the term to be something they had not yet heard about.

So, I went out and polled a few business leaders, simply asked them to fill out a form based on what they knew, and many even admitted they did not know what the term really meant…but they took a stab at the questions I asked anyway.

We talk everyday about branding our “company” and making sure that our marketing collateral matches the “company brand”.  But what would be different if you branded your company through the eyes of your leadership brand?  My hunch is that it would be much tougher, and here is why:

When you build a brand based on true, enduring leadership, each person in the company not only speaks about the brand and and the promises you make to your customers in your marketing strategies, but each person in your company truly lives those promises every day in both their personal and professional lives, and that can be tough.   Because of the internet, blogging and social networking sites, every person and every company is now under a microscope and is scrutinized right and left for their actions on the inside not being consistent with the words they speak on television and in other advertising messages.  Leaders come and go everyday but strong, solid, committed and consistent leadership can help your company deliver strong bottom line results over and over again, making for happy, loyal customers.  When you ask for a commitment from everyone in your company to “live integrity 100%” or to “live innovation 100%” or to “give 110% to living customer service”, you are asking for a big commitment.  At the end of the day, it is better to ask everyone in your company to live it than to have your actions fighting against the words you speak to the world.

I have printed the answers from 14 business leaders below about the questions surrounding leadership branding.  And, if you want to know more, I highly encourage you to pick up a copy of the book Leadership Brand:  Developing Customer-Focused Leaders to Drive Performance and Build Lasting Value by Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood.

_____________________________________________________________

Name   Peg Donahue

Website   http://www.fengshuiconnections.com

When you hear the term “leadership brand”, what does this mean to you?

For me this relates to one’s personal style and authenticity. Each of us leads based on our beliefs, experiences and perspective. I believe it is important to be genuine and lead from your heart. It is also important to “walk your talk” and be a good example for others.

If you were to define a leadership brand for yourself or for your company, which leadership quality below would you use to build your leadership brand?

  • Integrity

Based on the leadership skill you chose above, what steps would you implement so that your customers would actually describe you in a way that aligns with the leadership skill you checked above?

  • Bring integrity to all I do.
  • Regularly publish “thought leadership” articles and blog posts that demonstrate integrity.
  • Actively include integrity as a value in my consulting and teaching practices.

_____________________________________________________________

Name   Val Boyko

Website   http://www.motherwhisperers.com

When you hear the term “leadership brand”, what does this mean to you?

The personal brand of a leader.  How someone is seen or perceived as a leader.

If you were to define a leadership brand for yourself or for your company, which leadership quality below would you use to build your leadership brand?

  • Understanding Others

Based on the leadership skill you chose above, what steps would you implement so that your customers would actually describe you in a way that aligns with the leadership skill you checked above

  • Using the word understanding in my message to people and reassuring my audience that they are not alone.
  • Sharing this message as part of my vision or mission statement
  • Telling stories that show my understanding of others
  • Using empathy in my conversations to show I understand the other person.
  • Embodying this value in how I relate to others. Making it a living practice. “Be the change I wish to see in the world”. Gandhi

_____________________________________________________________

Name   Jeannette Paladino

Website   http://writespeaksell.com

When you hear the term “leadership brand”, what does this mean to you?

A brand is what an organization or individual wishes to be known for. Defining your brand establishes the direction, leadership, clarity of purpose and inspiration for the organization’s missi

If you were to define a leadership brand for yourself or for your company, which leadership quality below would you use to build your leadership brand?

  •  Strategic Thinking

Based on the leadership skill you chose above, what steps would you implement so that your customers would actually describe you in a way that aligns with the leadership skill you checked above?

In recent years I have re-branded myself as a business writer. But there is much more to writing than putting words on paper. It is understanding the client’s brand and taking a strategic look at what the company stands for and the key messages to be communicated to its target audiences. The specific steps would be to discuss how the company perceives itself, which is an inside-out-process: exploring what differentiates the individual or company from other companies offering similar services. I’ve just had conversations with two companies about this very topic and it is like unwrapping a present and discovering something wonderful inside — your brand essence. The branding and words flow from that.

_____________________________________________________________

Name   Sue Porter

Website   http://www.AccidentalLeader.com

When you hear the term “leadership brand”, what does this mean to you?

“Leadership Branding” is the way in which you have distinguished yourself as a leader. It reveals specific positive aspects of one’s influence. When people hear a particular name, they know what that leader stands for. Conversely, branding can also uncover a poor leader, but I prefer to describe positive branding. With this in mind, a leadership brand evokes feelings and thoughts of confidence, vision and wisdom. More importantly it should elicit a “knowing” ; knowing specifically how you and others will be treated. To develop a strong leadership brand encompasses values-driven behavior that gives people a desire to take notice and follow. Think of Seth Godin and you think “marketing guru, preeminent “out of the box” thought leader”; Dr. John C. Maxwell is synonymous with developing leaders and level 5 leadership; and, Marshall Goldsmith incites th oughts of servant leadership and equipping materials relevant for companies coaches, corporations, leaders and entrepreneurs. I don’t think most people realize that all they say, do, and live as a leader brands them. They not only should, but ought to strategically develop their leadership brand, monitoring it regularly.

If you were to define a leadership brand for yourself or for your company, which leadership quality below would you use to build your leadership brand?

  •  Developing Others

Based on the leadership skill you chose above, what steps would you implement so that your customers would actually describe you in a way that aligns with the leadership skill you checked above

I would implement a training program, using both a SWOT and a needs analysis that would uncover their skills, abilities, personality, strengths, weaknesses, motivations and past training. Utilizing coaching, together we would then develop a strategic growth plan where they would set goals and make an action plan that would not only met their needs, but as much as possible be in alignment with our company mission and vision. I would then provide ongoing coaching, support, and motivation to individually assist them in reaching their goal.

_____________________________________________________________

Name   Dr. Jackie Black

Website   http://www.DrJackieBlack.com

When you hear the term “leadership brand”, what does this mean to you

According to australian translation services, a brand is like a tattoo on the minds of my target market. When anyone in my target market thinks about me or my company I want them to instantly associate certain attributes or leadership skills or qualities to me, my business and the value/benefits they will receive from doing business with me

If you were to define a leadership brand for yourself or for your company, which leadership quality below would you use to build your leadership brand?

  • Approachability

Based on the leadership skill you chose above, what steps would you implement so that your customers would actually describe you in a way that aligns with the leadership skill you checked above?   I would insure that the photo I use for business purposes makes me look approachable, and if I decide to use a landscape I could use the best 360 camera 2017 for presenting a wider picture; that the language on my web sites, blogs, sales/splash/squeeze pages, ect, and in all collateral materials makes me sound approachable; and that from the first contact with the media and with prospective clients through every contact with the media and long-term clients I demonstrate with words, behavior and company policies and procedures how approachable I am. I would train all employees, direct reports and independent contractors alike, how to speak about me and on my behalf with the public and vendors in ways and with language that clearly demonstrate how approachable I am.

_____________________________________________________________

Name   Leah Grace

Website http://www.evolvesuccess.com

When you hear the term “leadership brand”, what does this mean to you?

Leadership brand means to me understanding who you are as a leader. We all have strengths and gifts that are uniquely ours, when we know what they are and own them, this is when our leadership brand and success is born

If you were to define a leadership brand for yourself or for your company, which leadership quality below would you use to build your leadership brand?

  • Courage
  • Planning

Based on the leadership skill you chose above, what steps would you implement so that your customers would actually describe you in a way that aligns with the leadership skill you checked above?
A huge part of owning your leadership brand is getting real about who you are. For many leaders, showing up as the true-self will be one of the most scary yet powerful processes they will experience in their lifetime. Putting yourself out there in a powerful way, will take a large dose of courage. It is the tendency to skirt around what we really have to offer. Courage is a process. Like a muscle courage grows and strengthens all of the time and growing our courage muscles is not always comfortable. One of the biggest reasons people don’t reach their biggest dreams is because they do not set themselves up for success in this journey of development. This is where the planning comes in. Being a successful leader is not something we are born with, it is something that we stretch towards each and every day.

_____________________________________________________________

Name   Frank Faeth

Website   http://www.faethconsulting.com 

When you hear the term “leadership brand”, what does this mean to

Several things: 1) Well-respected product/service of high quality, consistency, and dependability; 2) Creates a product/service worth considering, aside from price; 3) Provides a product/service not quite like any other — distinctive for what it is; and 4) A product/service I’m not embarrassed to say I purchase/useIf you were to define a leadership brand for yourself or for your company, which leadership quality below would you use to build your leadership brand?

  • Business Acumen
  • Compassion
  • Customer Focus
  • Ethics and Values
  • Integrity

Based on the leadership skill you chose above, what steps would you implement so that your customers would actually describe you in a way that aligns with the leadership skill you checked above?

  1. Approach every project with the highest integrity and deliver an incomparable end product;
  2. Be honest and open with my clients and their stakeholders;
  3. Be someone others would unhesitatingly recommend; and
  4. Demonstrate that I know more about my subject area than my competitors through my words and actions.

___________________________________________________________

Name   Dolores Hagen

Website   http://www.sixtyandsensational.com

When you hear the term “leadership brand”, what does this mean to you?

I’m not sure I know exactly what that means. I’d say that means the perception of how others see you.

 If you were to define a leadership brand for yourself or for your company, which leadership quality below would you use to build your leadership brand?

  •  Developing Others

Based on the leadership skill you chose above, what steps would you implement so that your customers would actually describe you in a way that aligns with the leadership skill you checked above?

At the end of each coaching session I would ask these questions:

1. In what way did our session today help you?
2. Would you be willing to send me comments on how today’s session helped you in writing through an email?

_____________________________________________________________

Name   Arlene Kahn

Website   http://www.arlenekahntherapy.com

When you hear the term “leadership brand”, what does this mean to you

My first thought is that it means a style of leadership or a kind of leadership like a brand of spaghetti sauce that includes certain things.

If you were to define a leadership brand for yourself or for your company, which leadership quality below would you use to build your leadership brand?

  • Innovation

Based on the leadership skill you chose above, what steps would you implement so that your customers would actually describe you in a way that aligns with the leadership skill you checked above?

1. Learning about new ideas in the field, in this case the field of Psychology.

2. Combining important traditional approaches along with the new. For example:

  • Forming a support group based on traditional ideas of “Attachment” along with newer information about the brain in that area.
  • Using blogs, art, writing, and other creatuve and innovative approaches to mental health, of course physical health is also important, as a good weight and healthy joints with supplements from healthyusa, also a good skin so if you want to maintain a clean skin or just sweat less the iontophoresis machines are just perfect for it. Clinicians should be aware that there are many fluoride varnishes on the market. They may not be licensed for caries control, although they may have similar formulations, and this should be taken into consideration with respect to prescriber’s responsibilities buy you can buy colgate duraphat and other prescription drugs at https://www.ukmeds.co.uk/treatments/dental/colgate-duraphat-2800/ legally.
  • Instituting a Community Focusing Night, free of charge.
  • Creating a business structure that supports these efforts.

_____________________________________________________________

Name   Shoya Zichy

Website   http://www.ColorQPersonalities.com

When you hear the term “leadership brand”, what does this mean to you?

Defining the unique qualities that differentiate you from other leaders

If you were to define a leadership brand for yourself or for your company, which leadership quality below would you use to build your leadership brand?

  • Action Oriented
  • Creativity
  • Developing Others
  • Humor
  • Listening
  • Understanding Other

Based on the leadership skill you chose above, what steps would you implement so that your customers would actually describe you in a way that aligns with the leadership skill you checked above?   Create marketing materials, presentations and intellectual property that demonstrate those qualities.

_____________________________________________________________

Name:   Laura Schlafly

Website:   http://www.careerchoiceswithlaura.com

When you hear the term “leadership brand”, what does this mean to you?   I have never heard of this term before. If I had to take a stab at it I’d say that it means “how one has labelled themselves, or been labelled in terms of their leadership style”.

If you were to define a leadership brand for yourself or for your company, which leadership quality below would you use to build your leadership brand?

  • Approachability

Based on the leadership skill you chose above, what steps would you implement so that your customers would actually describe you in a way that aligns with the leadership skill you checked above?   company name would look/sound approachable:

  • My photos would elicit approach-ability
  • My contact information would be readily available
  • I would offer an easy, low cost or free way to get to know me before engaging formally
  • I would be out in the public eye, networking and volunteering

____________________________________________________________

Name:   Alice Dendinger

Websitehttp://www.gotoalice.com

When you hear the term “leadership brand”, what does this mean to you?

Everyone has a personal brand – it is what others think of when they think of you. When I hear the term “leadership brand” – it means that it is a thought or perception assigned to someone based on how they “show up.” Does the individual speak about big picture, vision, systems impact, alignment of people and resources and getting results. Or are they worried about what is “in the weeds” and issues that are short sighted. People who are branded as a leader take a 30,000 foot view as opposed to ground level.

If you were to define a leadership brand for yourself or for your company, which leadership quality below would you use to build your leadership brand?

  • Action Oriented
  • Approachability
  • Command Skills
  • Composure
  • Courage
  • Delegation
  • Developing Others
  • Ethics and Values
  • Informing
  • Listening
  • Strategic Thinking
  • Understanding Others

Based on the leadership skill you chose above, what steps would you implement so that your customers would actually describe you in a way that aligns with the leadership skill you checked above?   I would take a look at what I must accomplish and focus on the more elevated level and outsource the weed work.

____________________________________________________________

Name   Deborah Frey

Website   http://freyworks.com

When you hear the term “leadership brand”, what does this mean to you?

A “Leadership brand” is a compelling identifier designed to accurately describe and promote our distinguishing, valuable, unique talents and abilities to create a shared vision, to collaborate with, guide and empower others for success.

If you were to define a leadership brand for yourself or for your company, which leadership quality below would you use to build your leadership brand?

  • Developing Others

Based on the leadership skill you chose above, what steps would you implement so that your customers would actually describe you in a way that aligns with the leadership skill you checked above?

  • Engage with the client to identify and describe their unique critical issues.
  • Collaborate with the client to design goal plans.
  • Provide tools to identify natural talents, interpersonal style, communication preferences, and clarify personal and professional values.
  • Provide a structured, pragmatic, open-ended development process that is aligned with the client’s unique attributes to ultimately fully engage their potential, and dramatically improve their odds for success.
  • Implement follow-up success platform tools and support for sustainable results.

____________________________________________________________

Name   Cheri Ruskus

Website   http://victorycircles.com

When you hear the term “leadership brand”, what does this mean to you?

Because leadership comes in many shapes and sizes my thought is that leadership brand means honing into your own particular leadership style. Insuring that as you put your leadership skills out there into the world that these particular attributes are shown consistently and accurately.

If you were to define a leadership brand for yourself or for your company, which leadership quality below would you use to build your leadership brand?

  • Action Oriented
  • Approachability
  • Business Acumen
  • Compassion
  • Courage
  • Creativity
  • Customer Focus
  • Developing Others
  • Ethics and Values
  • Humor
  • Innovation
  • Listening
  • Perseverance
  • Planning
  • Strategic Thinking
  • Understanding Others

 

Based on the leadership skill you chose above, what steps would you implement so that your customers would actually describe you in a way that aligns with the leadership skill you checked abov

  • As you can see I found it impossible to pick just one – there are just too many important ones to not use them all.
  • To be cognizant  that these skills are filtered throughout the work we do.
  • Develop programs that insure these elements continuously get implemented with our team members and clients.

All are great answers.  If you believe that you or your company can benefit from starting the process of designing a strong leadership brand, contact me today to schedule a time to brainstorm for a few minutes.  While using this approach can take a bit of time, the best time to begin is now!

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Marketing to Generation Y: What You Can’t Afford Not to Know

makreting to generation y

Are You Truly Marketing to Gen Y? If So, Check Your Authenticity Rating

Generation Y. You’ve heard that they don’t watch TV, and you’ve probably been told that they don’t read that much. Your research tells you that you can’t target them through MTV anymore, and you certainly can’t tell Gen Y what is cool. So how do you reach these 71 million “Millennials” that spend over 200 billion dollars annually and will soon replace the baby boomer generation as the largest percentage of the workforce? The answer is simple—you STOP marketing to them, that’s what SEO Phoenix does. Let me explain.

First, let’s look at who they are. As a baby boomer, I can tell you that this generation—sometimes called the “Connecteds”—are our own invention. We raised Gen Y to believe that they can do anything and be anything. We made their lives easy enough that they now believe they deserve to live first and work second. (How dare them!) So the first thing we have to do is stop being pissed off at our own creation and embrace the brilliance of this Gen Y community.

This is the most optimistic generation to ever walk the face of the planet. They absolutely believe that miracles are possible. They refuse to work a job that does not bring them a sense of joy. They care about the earth and servicing their community. In Gen Y, we have created the possibility for everything that we wanted for the world. According to https://themarketingheaven.com/, we must stop whining about them being entitled and embrace the power of this generation. Once we do that, we can then begin to take a closer look at who they are, what makes them tick, and what they want from our businesses.

Let’s look at who has been successful at marketing to Gen Y: Apple, Jet Blue, Trader Joes, Jones Soda, Mountain Dew, and Red Bull, to name a few. How do these companies speak to this demographic? To answer that, we first have to understand the four areas Gen Y considers before purchasing a product or service:
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  1. Cheap cost
  2. Good quality
  3. Fast service
  4. An “experience”
  5. Company integrity

When Apple created the 99-cent download that took eight seconds to transact, they hit the nail on the head with Gen Y. Music is an experience, the quality is stellar, the cost is low, and the purchase happens instantly. What did Apple do right? They spoke directly to Gen Y and asked the question: What do you want?

So who gets Gen Y’s attention? Living in an age where information is everywhere and where everyone can reach them, the Gen Y community is VERY selective about who they listen to. Just look at their MySpace and Facebook accounts, and you’ll recognize that they get their information from one another—NOT from us, and certainly not from the media. And the information they get from each other is not in emails, which most of them don’t even touch anymore (I know you probably thought you were being hip with your 100 emails a day!). They text one another. They IM. They watch each other on YouTube. And sometimes they do all three at the same time! Most importantly, Gen Y does NOT care about what you have to say unless you have been endorsed by their friends. They care about what their community says, and they take each other and their network’s recommendations VERY seriously.

So taking that into account, how do you reach them? Well, understand that Gen Y is an “experience” culture. They do not want to be told what to like or what to do. They want to experience the world for themselves and pass their own judgment. They love to be in the trenches of life, and they want to be there with their friends. HERE is where you have to meet them if you want to be taken seriously and respected by this generation enough for them to buy from you:

· Concerts (Gen Y LOVES live music.)

· Extreme sporting events (skateboarding, snowboarding, BMX)

· Movies (mainstream as well as art-house)

· Hiking events (They love the outdoors)

· Video games and video game competitions (Cyber Athlete Professional League, GameCaster, Global Gaming League)

· Mashups (Weather Bonk, Where’s Tim Hibbard, Y! Mash, Sims on Stage)

· Social networking sites (Facebook, MySpace, Second Life, del.icio.us, DIGG)

· Tattoo parlors (36 percent of them have at least one tattoo)

Before I wrap this up, there is one more major element we need to discuss, and that is how to earn their respect when you are talking with Gen Y: AUTHENTICITY. They don’t waste time on people or companies that are not being real with them. Authentic is cool. Authentic is dorky. Authentic is hip. Authentic is truthful. This generation has seen it all, from televised wars to 9-11 to the hanging of Hussein. They know real when they see it, and it takes them all of three seconds to pass that judgment.

So what does all this mean to you? It means that you cannot directly market to them until you buy into them, until you value their perspective on life. So while other experts are out there giving you “tricks” to market to Gen Y, I’m here saying STOP marketing to them and START listening to them. Hang out with them. Experience life with them. Respect them. If you do, their outlook on life will change you. You’ll begin to behave differently, take on some new values, and begin to live more yourself. When you do that, you’ll find your audience within this generation. Then talking “with” them, not “at” them will sell your business..

Don Draper Does Vintage and Sexy In the Season Premiere of Mad Men

I have been waiting all week for the cast of Mad Men to show back up on AMC...all the cigarette smoking, whiskey/vodka drinking at all hours of the day and night, sex talk AND action and of course…the dreamy lead…Don Draper (played by Jon Hamm).

Don Draper presents to Jantzen

And the ad reads "So well built, we can't show you the second floor."

What I found so interesting in this opening season was the pitch that Draper made to Jantzen.  The company was having trouble selling their two piece swim suit, because they want their advertising to stay clean, family oriented and you know…wholesome.  They were in a bit of a dilemma with the new “racy, gritty” bikini ads their competitors were slinging out to the public, so they go to Draper’s new advertising firm (Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce)  for HELP!.  So, what does Don do??? He goes creative and edgy with his ad campaign So well built, we can’t show you the second floor.” (Above) This line was also so perfect because the topic of “not having a second floor” in this new company came up several times during the show this past  Sunday, so a pun was eloquently poured into the plot during this scene.  Brilliant!

As soon as Draper flipped around the new ad, I thought “WOW!”  That’s amazing…so creative, vintage and leaves quite a bit to the imagination.  Of course, the Jantzen decision makers were not so fond of the ad…it was too edgy for their audience, so Don immediately told them with a stab of sarcasm, that the ad was “what they would get from a CREATIVE company”, ordered them out of the office, calling the Jantzen family prudish and not “with the times”.  He then commands his right hand man, Pete Campbell (played by Vincent Kartheiser)  to “get him in a room where he has a chance”.  Finally!  After watching Don for three years, he’s getting ready to play hard ball.  From this point on, I could tell by watching the end of the first show that Don Draper is now on a mission to be the top advertising agency in New York City…will be fun to watch his true self unfold.

Isn’t this what we all want…to get in front of clients and opportunities where we “have a chance”.  You see, Don Draper has many, many talents and many, many secrets.  He is not your ordinary ad guy.  He’s edgy, and he needs to get in front of people who appreciate both him and his work.  So, if you have not watched Mad Men, I highly encourage you to check it out Sunday night at 10/9 Eastern to watch what Don Draper has to unfold.  I think you are going to get a great lesson in the true art of marketing and advertising when the genius inside a man is finally set free.

Go here to get the skinny on Mad Men…lots of great information, and you can watch downloads.  Also, Amazon.com and several movie rental companies like Netflix offer past shows in HD for computer viewing.  I got hooked about a year ago, and I have learned a great deal about creative thinking and making the pitch…and I don’t mean by throwing back a few high balls filled with whiskey before you make a pitch.   Also, the writing and the cast are just unlike anything I have ever seen on television.  So, check it out!  You might just learn a thing or two about family, social and business life in the 60s.

Watch a promo video below…will explain a bit about what’s what and who’s who.

9 Steps to Convincing Your Customers “Be the Brand”

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates at the fifth D: All ...

Image via Wikipedia: Bill Gates and Steve Jobs at the All Things Digital Conference

If you want your customers to “be your brand”, spend some time reading this post about how Apple has created a brand that has been built by raving fans.

In marketing and leadership, we all constantly preach the “You are the brand” sermon.

Something struck me today that maybe this statement may not be an absolute (this hit me today as I was on a run, using my Couch to 10K App for the iPhone and wondering if Steve Jobs owns a PC and if Bill Gates owns a Mac…I have no idea if they do, but something tells me they do…even if just to “check out” the competition a bit).  I started wondering…”Maybe the owner and employees are not the brand…maybe the customer is the brand”.  I am sure I am not the first or only person who has thought this, because you always hear of “walking billboards for your business” and “brand ambassadors” for your company.

If you take a look at the Apple commercials featuring the PC and the Mac guy, you can certainly see the resemblance in their creators (Gates and Jobs).  But, at the end of the day, how many Apple or Windows customers actually KNOW the 2 founders OR people who work for the company?   I know I don’t have any close friends that work for either company and according to Linked in, I am 3 levels away from Bill Gates, and I cannot find Steve Jobs on the site.

You see, I was sold on the iPhone without even going into a store.  I was sold based on watching Generation Y navigate the sleek yet simple device and once apps started coming out, I was hooked…no going back for me now!  And, many of the people using iPhones at the time of my purchase looked a bit like the Apple guy…cool… like they just stepped out of Urban Outfitters.  And, once the PC and Apple guy started doing their thing on television, I wanted to be more like the Apple guy…life seemed to be much easier, more hip and more laid back… living out there on the edge of new media.  The PC guy looked a bit like his neck tie was choking him or that maybe he needed a tablespoon of Milk of Magnesia.   So, at the end of the day, if you follow the 2 brands, you will see how Apple users literally live and breathe the brand.

So…the question is…how do you get customers to “be the brand”?

Here are 9 steps that I believe Apple is using to allow its customers to “be the brand”.  These are simply from the standpoint of being a consumer and talking to other Apple consumers.

1.  Give your customers something they don’t even know they need it before they buy it.  I did not know I  wanted or needed 10,000 songs on a mobile device until I had it…I did not know I needed my 10 favorite iPhone apps…now that I have them, I get crazy when I can’t use them!

2.  Build mystery around your brand.  Steve Jobs makes the announcing of a new product seem like Christmas is coming, and you want to peek inside the box while your parents are away from the house…you can’t wait to see what is inside the boxcovered in foiled wrapping and mounds of green and red ribbon.  We all know there is a “next Christmas” coming with Apple…we just can’t wait to see what they will come up with next.

3.  Make your brand relevant. As soon as the iPad came out, apps started flying out of every corner and closet to make people crave an iPad, because the apps are relevant today…not yesterday…Just check out the top apps for the iPad on Gizmodo and you will see what I mean.

4.  Keep innovating. As of the last week, I feel like my iPhone is suddenly outdated…it is only a year old, but now I want the 4G…Apple is telling me that I can “multi-task the right way” and create HD video with the phone.  As a multi-tasker who loves to shoot quick video…you’ve got me!

5. Place people in your retail stores and in the public eye that look like they belong there.  If you have ever visited an Apple store, you will notice the folks at the genius bar look like they selected for both their brains and their looks!  I have been to the store in Durham, NC multiple times, and these guys are great.  They know what they are doing and trust me…they look like they are perfect for Apple!

When it comes to branding, you want your front line folks who are interacting with your customers to drip of your brand.  As I look at this photograph, there are just certain people I could never see working behind this counter.  I know that this sounds like a “skin deep” judgment, but it is true…when you are building a brand you are going to want people who look like they can eat, sleep and live your brand interacting with your customers.  As humans, we are going to connect more quickly with people who “look like us” so that, as customers, we can go out and sell the brand more easily to our friends.

6.  Find out what your customers like and don’t like. This is critical, and Apple does this so well…this is why (I think) the Verizon conversation is floating around out there…the Verizon customers want their coverage and they want an iPhone do the work.  I just find it ironic that Jobs could not connect to his iPhone during his unveiling of the new iPhone and as the awkward moment was unfolding, fabs in the crowd shouted “VERIZON!”  (Awkward but a message sent loud and clear to Jobs, who I know is listening).

7. Dedicate yourself to reinvention. People think that Apple set out to compete with Windows and Bill Gates…maybe…maybe not.  Something tells me that Steve Jobs is dedicated to competition but more importantly… to reinventing the entire computer industry.  I believe he is leading us all to being able to live with a simple system that we can hold in the palm of our hands.  This will certainly allow us to be more mobile (I know I have been much less tied to my laptop since the iPhone came into my life…and I also have to give kudos to Jeff Simpkins for introducing me to Google Apps, as all connects seamlessly to the iPhone…so, I can perform most tasks from my iPhone).

8.  Connect with the emotions of your customers. We hear this all of the time, but what does this really mean in tangible steps?  Apple has tapped into our emotions by giving us music that takes us back in time, by providing easy tools to make our day less stressful (high marks to the multiple apps for the Where To? app for GPS and to the Get It Done app for time management) and for giving us the ability to video chat and record both voice and video to send to relatives and friends who are far away.

9. Keep it simple and consistent. I can spot an Apple product from a distance.  The look is sleep, simple and just look so great…I have to touch it!  If your brand is complex, clunky and always changes looks, the public will get confused.  So…know who you are and the look you want to present, and you will attract the customers who will “become your brand”.

If you or your team is interested in learning more about convincing your customers to “be the brand”, contact me today for a leadership coaching consultation.

Next Gen Branding with Leadership in Mind: What You Can’t Afford Not to Know

Our Next Generation…Generation Y. You’ve heard that they don’t watch TV, and you’ve probably been told that they don’t read that much. Your research tells you that you can’t target them through MTV anymore, and you certainly can’t tell Gen Y what is cool. So how do you reach these 71 million “Millennials” that spend over 200 billion dollars annually and will soon replace the baby boomer generation as the largest percentage of the workforce? The answer is simple—you STOP marketing to them. Stop trying to wiggle your brand around so that it meets their needs. Just stop! Let me explain.

First, let’s look at who they are. As a baby boomer, I can tell you that this generation—sometimes called the “Connecteds”—are our own invention. We raised Gen Y to believe that they can do anything and be anything. We made their lives easy enough that they now believe they deserve to live first and work second. (How dare them!) So the first thing we have to do is stop being ticked off at our own creation and embrace the brilliance of this Gen Y community.

This is the most optimistic generation to ever walk the face of the planet. They absolutely believe that miracles are possible. They refuse to work a job that does not bring them a sense of joy. They care about the earth and servicing their community. They have watched their parents be downsized, laid off and fired…so they are skeptical about big business and entrepreneurial thinking is deeply ingrained in their DNA. In Gen Y, we have created the possibility for everything that we wanted for the world. So we must stop whining about them being entitled and embrace the power of this generation. Once we do that, we can then begin to take a closer look at who they are, what makes them tick, and what they want from our businesses.

Let’s look at who has been successful at building a brand to reach our next generation:

  • Apple
  • Jet Blue
  • Trader Joes
  • Jones Soda
  • Mountain Dew
  • In-N-Out Burger
  • Red Bull

Here are just a few of the reasons why these companies are so popular with Generation Y:

  • Cheap cost
  • Good quality
  • Fast service
  • An “experience”

When Apple created the 99-cent download that took eight seconds to transact, they hit the nail on the head with Gen Y. Music is an experience, the quality is stellar, the cost is low, and the purchase happens instantly. What did Apple do right? They spoke directly to Gen Y and asked the question: What do you want?

So who gets Gen Y’s attention? Living in an age where information is everywhere and where everyone can reach them, the Gen Y community is VERY selective about who they listen to. Just look at their MySpace and Facebook accounts, and you’ll recognize that they get their information from one another—NOT from us, and certainly not from the media. And the information they get from each other is not in emails, which most of them don’t even touch anymore (I know you probably thought you were being hip with your 100 emails a day!). They text one another. They IM. They watch each other on YouTube. And sometimes they do all three at the same time! Most importantly, Gen Y does NOT care about what you have to say unless you have been endorsed by their friends. They care about what their community says, and they take each other and their network’s recommendations VERY seriously.

So taking that into account, how do you reach them? Well, understand that Gen Y is an “experience” culture. They do not want to be told what to like or what to do. They want to experience the world for themselves and pass their own judgment. They love to be in the trenches of life, and they want to be there with their friends. HERE is where you have to meet them if you want to be taken seriously and respected by this generation enough for them to buy from you:

* Concerts (Gen Y LOVES live music.)

* Extreme sporting events (skateboarding, snowboarding, BMX)

* Movies (mainstream as well as art-house)

* Hiking events (They love the outdoors)

* Video games and video game competitions (Cyber Athlete Professional League, The Robux Hack group, GameCaster, Global Gaming League)

* Mashups (Weather Bonk, Where’s Tim Hibbard, Y! Mash, Sims on Stage)

* Social networking sites (Facebook, MySpace, Second Life, del.icio.us, DIGG)

* Tattoo parlors (36 percent of them have at least one tattoo)

Before you begin heading off in the direction of marketing to Gen Y, there is a major element we need to discuss, and that is how to build your brand on the inside so that you show respect to these men and women when you are talking with them as consumers and potential employees. These aspects MUST be a part of your brand…from the way you live inside your organization to the way you live in your community to the way you sell products and services:

Creativity – To be in demand for new, fresh ideas, divergent thinking and new solutions to old problems. To design environments to ensure those creative ideas get on the table. All ideas, no matter how bizarre, will be celebrated and no employees will be exempt from sharing their creativity with the company.

Integrity – Being fully committed to consistency of values, actions, principles, expectations and outcomes, with all stakeholders. With a focus on integrity, companies need to bea dedicated to a sense of honesty and truthfulness in regard to tjeor motivations. Companies will be scrutinized by the next generation of leaders based on how well you walk your talk in regards to our code of ethics.

Freedom in thinking – Next Generation Brands should respect the unique thinking philosophies and cultural norms of all stakeholders. A company will be challenged to be fully committed to leveraging this unique thinking in order to be the leader in your industry.

Innovation – To be dedicated to leveraging your creativity to bring new products and services to the marketplace which will improve efficiency and quality of life for all stakeholders.

Ongoing learning and development – Next Gen Brands need to be fully dedicated to providing the coaching and training necessary to maximize the true potential of every employee of your company. You will also be asked to be committed to offering ongoing learning and development programs to all stakeholders to help them make life and business easier, more profitable, and more productive. Your company will need to be dedicated to leveraging your training and development outreach programs to build stronger, more collaborative relationships with all stakeholders.

Transparency -To be dedicated to being a see-through organization. With this position, you are committed to open communication and meetings, answering tough questions directly, financial disclosure statements, information sharing, budgetary reviews and audits. You will be committed to full accountability to your leadership code of ethics and when you fall short of promises made to all stakeholders and the general public.

So what does all this mean to you? It means that you cannot directly market to them until you buy into them, until you value their perspective on life. So while other experts are out there giving you “tricks” to market to Gen Y, I’m here saying STOP marketing to them and START listening to them and honoring their core values. Hang out with them. Experience life with them. Respect them. If you do, their outlook on life will change you. You’ll begin to behave differently, take on some new values, and begin to live more yourself. When you do that, you’ll find your audience within this generation. Then talking “with” them, not “at” them will sell your business.

Audio Interview: Leadership Branding for 2010 and Beyond: The 5 Critical Leadership Skills to Drive Performance and Deliver Ongoing Value for Your Customers

I had the pleasure of being a guest on William Arruda’s Personal Branding Interview series yesterday.

I want to thank Tara Kachaturoff for recommending that I speak to this group and to Susan Guarneri for organizing my presentation to the group.

The topic:  Leadership Branding for 2010 and Beyond: The 5 Critical Leadership Skills to Drive Performance and Deliver Ongoing Value for Your Customers

The audio is below.  The topic of the interview ties back into the book EDGE! A Leadership Story, which I had the honor of co-authoring with Corey Blake and Eva Silva Travers of Writers of the Round Table Inc.

I encourage everyone to check out the Personal Branding Interview Series AND the site.  Really great information and guests coming soon!.

Do Your Clients Have a Pecking Order?

This is such a juicy topic…Do your clients have a pecking order? You know what I mean…Do you pick up the phone with more urgency when a “special” client calls, or do certain clients get preferential treatment over others? Hmmm…very good question indeed.

I had a meeting last week with a biz owner…someone who is quite successful, and she commented to me about a situation. You see, she had hired a web designer for a project about two years ago. At that time, she was in the middle of a transition, and she was doing fairly well but not well enough to write home to the family about her business.

She hired a web designer to help her through her transition. The designer did a great job for her, and she became a walking billboard for his business. As time moved along, the designer began to get more clients (because of her testimonials) and obviously more “important” clients, because this designer began to promote the “more important” clients over her to the public. Hmmm…interesting that she picked up on that.

You see…this biz owner is someone who thought her web designer was a true partner…someone who would stand by her and support her, because she was a first client. But, as time went on, she became like a puppy who then became an old dog…the shine was gone. She was that first client, but now, she was someone who no longer had the pull of the “more important clients” for the designer. She no longer was famous enough for him. Such a shame (in my opinion, because I know this person and her ability to send thousands of people his way.)

I was raised by parents who always taught me “Dance with the one who brought you.” As you may know, this phrase (probably southern) suggests that we need to always remember the people who helped us get where we are. They are the seeds that we plant early on, and they are (in my opinion), the most important people in our business. They help us plant seeds that yield incredible fruits of our labors (more clients, more connections.) My adivce is…take care of those people, thank them and never forget that they helped you get where you are today. If you forget it, your business will take a big hit. It always does.

If this situation is true for you, I have a few suggestions on the topic:

1) When you make announcements about your clients, do it in alphabetical order. You may be saying “Well, I want John Smith to be first on the list, because he has more credibility.” That is bullshit!. By ordering your clients according to who you think is most important, you send a loud and clear message to your other clients: You are not as important! (I also want to remind everyone that money often buys prestige, position and power, so the person who you think is “so important” may have bought their way to success, which then diminishes the efforts of your clients who are working their way up through hard work, sweat and tears.) By listing your clients in alphabetical order, you take the “preferred client” scenario out of the equation, and you put everyone on a level playing field. If you are ordering your clients according to power, position and prestige, you are essentially “playing favorites.”

2) Each time a client does ANYTHING for your business, thank them over and over again. Your clients can never hear gratitudes enough.

3) On just one occasion, take the client who you “think” is your least influential, and move that person to a prime position. Give that client an MVP award or some type of award of distinction. You will be rewarded forever for that one effort.

4) Each time you decide to move a client to the bottom of your list, stop to consider his or her network and his/her ability to get out and talk up your company. You may be making the mistake of a lifetime by moving this person to the bottom of your “pecking order.”.

Brand Vs. Brand

I spoke with a young man last week who has been quite disgruntled with the company he has dedicated the first three years of his career life to. He spoke about top leaders who are being seen as too political and who are physically and emotionally removed from the “minions” of the company. He talked of separation, silos and a lack of mutual respect. Of course, the word “minion” and the tone of sarcasm in his voice quickly told me to me that he was speaking about the subordinate workers in the company and that he was including himself in this group.

I then asked him what it was that attracted him to the company. His response “The company has strong brand equity.” Because I know a bit about this quite well known company, I immediately began to wonder if the public perception of this brand as being one that lives in integrity was really matching up with what was going on inside the company. From the water fountain to the mail room to the board room, I started wishing I could be a fly on the wall for a few days to see what was really going on.

I am not going to mention the name of this company today, but guess what…if this story is true, one day soon someone who is inside the company will speak publicly about this lack of brand alignment, and it will probably happen in a blog post just like this one. In this day and age, if your public brand (the one you market to the end customer) does not match up with the way you treat your employees, your lovely company could turn into a very bad dream overnight. Just imagine yourself…the CEO of a company, you piss off a few “minions”, and the next day, the bloggers, podcasters and video gurus come out of the closet and begin telling the public the real story about your company and the way you treat people.

If you are reading this blog post today, I want to ask you to sit down with your top decision makers and put your brand under a microscope. If you say that you value innovation, what are you doing to offer challenging and creative opportunities for your employees? If you say you value customer service, are you also rolling out the red carpet for your employees? If you say you value integrity, are you doing the right thing, even when no one is looking?

I believe that brands are strengthened or weakened with every customer interaction…and your customers include your employees and anyone who touches your business. As leaders, we must embody the promises we make to our customers, employees, stakeholders, venture partners, vendors and family members..